Thursday, 14 July 2011

Post rewrite- "Frugal Beauty: How to Look Good on a Budget"

A couple of days ago, Sierra Black over at Get Rich Slowly posted a piece called "Frugal Beauty: How to Look Good on a Budget". Like all posts over there, it was well written, but I felt this particular piece was distinctly lacking, and a lot of the comments had similar sentiments, arguing that Sierra's tips were unrealistic and the work of a dirty hippy.

Now I've got nothing against hippies. I used to live with raw food yoga teachers in Hawai'i, I'm studying ceramics at university and one of my best friends believes in the healing powers of crystals. But I just felt the article wasn't practical for its intended audience, so this is my rewrite.
NOTE- I'm sorry about the format, especially the photos. Blogspot has a habit of not cooperating with my photos unless I add them as I go along, and I totally forgot about photos until the last minute when I ran around my house trying to take relevant pics.

I don't care why you're trying to be frugal. You might have taken a sudden dive in income, realised how much you own to your debtors and want to pay it back or be saving up for something you love. But being frugal doesn't mean you have to give up on your grooming. Everyone knows that grooming is important in the workplace, and no-body wants to work next to someone who smells like they haven't washed in weeks! Here are some ways you can save both the big bucks and pinch the pennies.

Big Bucks
  • Save on beauty treatments and haircuts by going to a training salon or vocational college. My local college does waxing, manicures and pedicures for less than half the price charged by local salons and hairdressers are always looking for cut models who get their hair done for free or a small fee (the Vidal Sassoon Academy in London charges £5 for a cut). Treatments are always supervised by an instructor who'll make sure you don't leave with a hair disaster!
    I wouldn't trust a training school for a big event- going to a wedding with wonky eyebrows might make the wrong impression- but for your regular beauty hit, don't be afraid to help train the next generation of beauticians.
    Potential savings-half whatever your normal treatments cost, the full price of a haircut. A hair cut at my local salon is £35, so if you're getting a trim every 2 months then swapping for a free training cut could save you £210 a year!

  • Downgrade your products. This works for most make-up: a £2 mascara is near identical to a £20 one and eye-shadow's staying power is dependant more on whether you use a primer with many cheaper brands having equally brilliant colours. Check the ingredients of your luxury product against a more affordable brand, and be cautious if you have sensitive skin that doesn't handle change well. It's not a bargain if it turns your face bright red!
    Potential savings- this is completely up to you, but I swapped my Clinque eye cream (£23), day moisturiser (£35) and lip gloss (£14.50) for Boots own brand (£2.54), Neutrogena (£7.99) and Collection 2000 (£1.99) saving £59.98.

  • Don't be afraid to mix and match. Companies want you to buy a whole range, but if using your high end cleanser with your low end moisturiser works for you, then go for it! Again, be wary if you have sensitive skin, especially if you're using a lot of products that have salicylic acid in as this can cause redness and sun sensitivity.

  • Buy online instead of from department stores and even with shipping you could save 10% or more. Avoid Ebay though: the listings are littered with fakes, which could be untested or unsafe. Buying online might also help you avoid impulse purchases, as you won't be strolling past that tempting make-up display or have a shop assistant trying to sell you the latest thing.
Penny Pinching
  • Switch your liquid shower gel for solid soapA good bar of soap is much cheaper and just as cleansing as a bottle of shower gel, is better for the environment (it’s concentrated, there’s less packaging) and, in my experience, lasts a lot longer. You can get 6-packs of moisturing soap at the 99p store. Make sure you store it on a dish out of the spray of the shower so it lasts longer.
    Potential savings- (here we go with the Clinque again) I traded the liquid facial soap (£14) for the solid bar soap (£13) which has lasted me twice as long, essentially saving £15. Over the course of a year, this adds up to £45.

  • Throw a make-over party with friends. Do you remember when you were 13 and would sleepover at each other's houses and practice giving manicures and applying face-packs? Well, now not only are you much better at painting French tips, you're old enough to drink wine too!
    Please note- drinking wine and painting a perfect French tip are mutually exclusive events.
  • Take advantage of special offers, especially buy one get one free deals and coupons. Most beauty products are filled with preservatives that make them non perishable for a long time if stored correctly with the seal intact.

  • Cut down on the amount of product you use. If you comb your hair before you wash it, you'll need to use less conditioner. Do you really need to moisturise/shave/fake tan your legs in winter when nobody sees them? Do you really need to use a toner, or can you skip that step? Could you exfoliate with a loofah or brush instead of using that £10 a jar sugar scrub?
  • Think re-usable, not disposable. A face wipe gets brushed against your face once and then ends up in the bin- why not swap it for a wash-cloth that can be used again and again with cleanser? If you use disposable cotton pads for your daily toner or make up removal, invest in some washable cleansing pads or make your own from an old towel.
    Potential savings- if you're using 2 pads daily, then you're using a pack of 60 pads a month (~£1.50). If you make your own reusable pads then you're saving £18 a year, enough to get a manicure at a salon.
The main thing to remember, as with all frugality, is compromise. If that £70 moisturiser is the only one with SPF built in that doesn't make you break out, then by all means, buy it. But if something else means more to you, like being debt free, or not having to live off noodles, then don't be afraid to try something new. Change is scary, especially when you're changing what vaguely suspect chemicals you're smearing on your face, but it's necessary. And who knows, you might find you next beauty favourite in the bargain aisle.


  1. Those comments on GRS for Sierra's post were really something! The funny thing was even though it was the wrong audience, I sort of was the right audience for it and I made my own deodorant based on the link she provided and it is awesome! But I am more trying to avoid toxics and I can never imagine going more than a couple days without washing my hair.

    I really like your rewrite - they had another writer follow up with similar tips. Did you submit your article to GRS? You might want to try to do a reader story?

  2. Hey, no I didn't notice the follow up article! It must have slipped under my radar. I didn't submit my article to GRS apart from linking in that comment. I would really like to write for GRS- they don't have anyone representing Gen Y or students or Europeans really so it would be great. Right now I'm not the best role model though, I haven't had any luck getting employed this summer.
    Of course, it's probably not the best time to bug JD either. "HEY HEY I know your mum is sick but I could write you an article on investing in artwork!" doesn't sound very sensitive and he's got enough on his plate without a 21 year old pulling at his shirt sleeve.

    Cool that you had success with homemade deodorant. I use a great roll on called Bionsen which is free from parabens, alcohol and aluminium because I don't like overwhelmingly chemical spray deodorants, but I'm lazy with my routine and like convenience.

    Anyway, thank you very much for leaving feedback, I really appreciate it. I'm still learning my way with writing, so any feedback is good good good!

  3. I think GRS would benefit from a Gen Y perspective for sure! I don't think he would mind if you wrote it. The website is his business after all. I went through something similar with my mom (who died 6 months after starting to act oddly - was a brain tumor that had been growing for years without symptoms). I say this because it is possible to separate the things you need to do "for work" from terrible things going on in your life.